The controversy over “Climategate” continues to heighten as some Pennsylvania legislators question the continuation of Penn State’s current research grants — and possibly even the appropriations the university has been waiting on since July.

There were two interesting articles late last week in the Penn State student paper, the Collegian.

The first article discusses the University’s funding situation. The State appropriation for fiscal year 2009-10, which started July 1st 2009, has still not been approved, the hold-up is legislation on legalising table games, primarily poker.
The expectation is that taxes from licenses and gambling revenue will provide over $200 million in income for the State. Assuming they are taxing the net at 16%, as per the article (other sources suggest 20% tax), and that the game is fair with house odds at 2%, then the expectation is for about $50 billion per year in annual turnover.
This seems optimistic.
If the tax is on the gross turnover at the table, then I’d expect very few people would play, you’d have to be rather extraordinarily math illiterate to accept a game with a 16% tax on the gross.

If the university appropriations are cut, the State loses federal stimulus funding.
But, although the State appropriations at about $300 million are a small percentage of the total university budget, they are a larger part of the general budget – in particular research funding is targeted, not fungible.
As general funds, the State appropriation works out at about $4,000 per student. Some savings could be made in response to cuts, but the further into the fiscal year it goes, the harder it is to save serious amounts of money, by next month any response to cuts in funding would likely involve staff furloughs, started at very short notice.
Not fun.

Next to the above article, was another, clearly not at all related:
Issue May Affect Funds:
to cut a long story short, a State Legislator, J. Piccola (R), wrote a letter to PSU suggesting, obliquely, that funding would be withheld until “appropriate action” is taken against Prof. M. Mann.
The issue is, “climategate”, which apparently has some of Mr. Piccola’s constituents rather excited. Mr Piccola is the Chair of the PA Senate Education Committee.

The issue of the “climategate” e-mails is currently under investigation at PSU, to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted.
Pressuring the university administration on the issue is prejudicial and unwarranted.

Sen. Piccola letter to Pres. Spanier (scribd):

Sen. Piccola Letter on PSU Prof Michael Mann

Here is a letter from one of the organizations prompting Sen. Piccola.
Here is the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Awareness, they are an “independent”, if rather anisoptropic, not to mention chiral, institution.

The CFfPPA was set up in 1987 at a Heritage Foundation meeting, and is apparently primarily supported by the McKenna Foundation.
They seem rather chiral also.


  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    December 14, 2009

    Denialists and their pet pols will continue to use this phony controversy as a tool of harassment for as long as they can. This is nothing more than an attempt at intimidation.

  2. #2 Graduate Student
    December 15, 2009

    To: Tyler DiPietro… Isn’t what you are accusing ‘denialists’ (read: holocaust denier) exactly what you indeed are doing- denying. You are denying that nothing was done wrong. ‘Denialists’ generally aren’t saying that the earth isn’t warming; they are saying that the science behind it is grossly exaggerated to fit a political agenda i.e. Man-made global warming. Scientific manipulation of data and distortion of raw data is unethical by any standard. Policy decisions based on corrupt data is poor form from any leadership. Anyone (on both sides of the debate) is mistaken if the don’t realize that this debate has never been about science but about politics. There are four data sets: CRU, NASA, NOAA, and University of Alabama. CRU is heavily compromised and NASA is being sued for the same data manipulation. Only NOAA and UA are ‘free of controversy.’ And the UA data shows ‘no statistically significant warming.’ And please don’t miss the point that each of the individuals in charge of the three data sets are government appointees (with the exception of UA, which is in their bylaws). Inasmuch as you accuse ‘denialist’ of intimidation, isn’t that what you are doing? The pot called the kettle black…

  3. #3 Sangetsu
    December 16, 2009

    What is a “denialist”? And to whom does this term apply? To those who deny global warming theory? Or to those deny grants, funding, or publication to any who have an opposing theory? It’s apparent that among some of us, healthy, two-sided discussion is a wonderful thing, so long as it doesn’t pertain to climate change.
    Regardless of how your read these hijacked emails and documents, they are quite damning. I keep hearing how certain phrases have been “taken out of context”, though, upon reading the documents myself, I can’t find any alternative way of construing them. It seems to me that anyone who takes these emails and documents for anything other than what they truly are is a “denialist”.
    It’s interesting to see the global warming phenomena come full-circle, and the shoe be put on the other foot for a change.
    I think Senator Piccola’s concerns are genuine, and I though I’m not sure if I agree with the action he is taking, at least he has chosen an course likely to get the maximum attention from Penn State.

  4. #4 Phoenix Woman
    December 17, 2009

    Dear “Graduate Student”:

    Quit getting your news from Rush Limbaugh, FOX, and Exxon-Mobil, ok?

    Here’s the debunking of your Exxon-Mobil-funded heroes’ efforts to slime honest scientists:

    Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).

    More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.


    No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

    The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

  5. #5 Lab Lemming
    December 17, 2009

    If they want appropriate action, then nominate MM for fellowship in the AAAS.

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